Early education expert provides training to Center staff

Late 2009, the Center was awarded a three-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Reading First (ERF) program – created to address the growing concern that many of our nation’s children begin kindergarten without the necessary foundation to fully benefit from formal school instruction.  The funds were awarded to programs that demonstrated their work would enhance young children’s language and cognitive development by providing high-quality instruction and ongoing professional development based on scientific reading research.

The Center was the only early education program in the State of Florida to be awarded the grant and has applied the funds to the Center’s Literacy Enhancement for Early Readers (LEER; or “to read” in Spanish) program designed to improve oral language, phonics, print awareness, and alphabetic knowledge for students in existing preschool programs. In delivering the LEER model, the Center is partnering with the Miami-Dade County Public School System, Miami-Dade College LAB School North, St. Albans Child Enrichment Center, University of Miami, and Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), a nonprofit education research and development organization.

As part of the implementation of the LEER program, the Center played host to Dr. Elena Bodrova, renowned expert in the area of early childhood research.  Dr. Bodrova, principal researcher for the National Institute for Early Education Research and McREL, toured the Center prior to delivering a two-day professional development-focused training to staff responsible for putting the LEER program in place.                                                                                                                                             

Dr. Bodrova holds a PH.D. in developmental and educational psychology from the Russian Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, and an M.A. in the same field from Moscow State University. Prior to coming to the United States, she was a senior researcher at the Russian Center for Educational Initiatives. Upon arrival, she became a visiting professor of educational psychology at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. Dr. Bodrova has co-authored multiple books, including Tools of the Mind: A Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education and For the Love of Words: Vocabulary Instruction that Works, Grades K-6.                                                     

With regard to the Center’s work and the role it plays in early childhood education, Dr. Bodrova says, “We are building foundations and if they are not built correctly, it gets very hard to fix them down the road. The goal of Early Reading First is to create centers of excellence. It is wonderful that this Center has intentionally positioned itself in the community to be able to disseminate quality information, creating more and more centers of excellence. It’s a wonderful facility.”